In the intermittent Greg Sheridan-Hugh White skirmish over whether Prime Minister Turnbull is a 'mainstream' pro-US alliance figure or a revisionist who would like to see the US do more to accommodate China's rise, we must note more evidence overnight for the Sheridan view that Turnbull is thoroughly orthodox. Some extracts from Turnbull's short remarks at a US Studies Centre event last evening:
It is clearer now than it has been for decades that the US is absolutely central to the rules-based order upon which our regional peace and prosperity depends.
The prosperity of our region is the consequence of 40 years of a pax Americana. Every single country in our region has benefited from that. From the security the US has delivered, the stability it has delivered, and of course China above all has been able to prosper and grow in those 40 years from being a nation that was barely engaged in the global economy to now being - depending on who is measuring it - either the world’s largest or the world’s second largest national economy.
All of that has been the product of a peace, relative tranquillity, and that has been guaranteed by that massive sheet-anchor of American commitment and American strategic power in our region.
This, about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, also stood out:
...a successful TPP will entrench the US as the strong, credible and enduring guarantor of the rules based order in our region.
Well, maybe that will be the effect of the TPP, or maybe not. But to the extent Turnbull is right, this is exactly what bothers the Chinese about the TPP. Of course, Turnbull and his speechwriters know this, so it's interesting to see that they have framed the agreement this way.
China, in this speech, is cast as a beneficiary of the existing US-led order, with the implication that Beijing would do well to leave it be and even to reinforce it by joining initiatives such as the TPP. But as noted earlier this week, it is unlikely the Chinese share this benign view of the US-led order and their place within it.